The narrative promoted by what I call hyper-capitalism is based on the notion that “the economy” is an entity of its own, that functions and balances in an quasi-magical way, albeit in collaboration with the other entity, “the free market”. So in this post, I take the liberty to go ahead and treat “the economy” as a person, and explain to you why this person needs therapy.
First of all, the economy must be male, and must be white. Given the way that the economy disproportionately favors males and excludes women from financial gain worldwide, it is obvious that we are addressing Mr. Economy. Furthermore, given that almost all humans living in abject poverty (less than $5 per day) are in the global south, and that coincidentally (insert sarcastic accentuation) the global south houses people of color, I must conclude that Mr. Economy resides in the global north and is white. It is possible that we are dealing with a black Mrs. Economy, but it is highly improbable. The sound of that is actually funny.
If Mr. Economy is indeed an entity with will and intent of its own, as we are being led to believe, then here are 5 reasons this person needs immediate intervention from a qualified therapist:
1. He repeatedly violates the rights of others by the use of intimidation, dishonesty and misrepresentation.
There are many examples of Mr. Economy doing this right here in the United States, but let’s look at something as simple as labor unions. In the 60s, labor unions helped secure the wages that sustained a healthy middle class. Through intimidation, little by little unions have been diminished and Americans today are seeing the results: the poor working class, and the non-working rich.
A better example is the fact that Mr. Economy somehow thinks it is OK to bail out banks that committed fraud – yes, FRAUD – and use the money given to fraudulent banks to pay bonuses to their top executives, who by the way were the real people committing said fraud.
2. He uses charm or wit to manipulate others for personal gain or for sheer personal pleasure because of his intense egocentrism.
Mr. Economy is keenly in tune with his own needs, and these are so overwhelmingly important that he must do whatever he has to do to survive. Scratch that, strive. Scratch that, reign. Because his need is so intense, he has stolen lands from native people around the world through colonization, imperialism, “Go West, Young Man, Go West!”, Manifest Destiny, NAFTA, USAID, and every other possible reasoning under the sun. His trick is to dress nice and give candy to the little kids. Always a crowd pleaser.
3. He has a deep sense of superiority and has recurring difficulties with the law because he shows disregard for right and wrong.
Mr. Economy is an entity, person-like, but because he is not fully human like the rest of us, he lives above the law. He doesn’t ask if something is right or wrong, he asks if it is legal. If it is not legal, he creates new laws that make it so. In the meantime, he behaves as though it is legal, and pays the fines associated with his behavior. Since he is not fully human, he won’t go to jail. All he has to do is amass enough currency and he will be alright. After all, he has enough money to steer himself into whatever direction he wants to go. He is always free to move about the cabin, even when the seat belt sign is on.
4. Lack of empathy for others and lack of remorse about harming others
In his immense need for instant self-gratification (see #2), Mr. Economy misses the fact that others are suffering in direct proportion to his opulence. The more he has, the less everyone else has. He knows that currency is a limited commodity – there are only so many dollar bills circulating. He knows that the more dollar bills he takes, the less dollar bills available for the general population. However, he could care less. After all, he is awesome and deserves all the dollar bills he can get. Darwin said so. (See #3 for clarity of thought).
5. Failure to learn from the negative consequences of behavior
What Mr. Economy fails to see is that every revolution in the history of mankind has come from times of extreme inequality. He cannot see that his behavior will cause his demise, and that the people will ultimately revolt and dethrone him. The tipping point is uncertain. What will it take? Extreme deforestation? Check. 4 billion people going hungry? Check. A disappearing middle class? Check. A super-rich class that manipulates the legislative process? Check. Yet Mr. Economy fails to learn from the past.
In conclusion, according to the Mayo Clinic, Mr. Economy is a sociopath, or in its more politically correct version, he has an Antisocial Personality Disorder.
Of course, there is no Mr. Economy. Those who benefit from this view want the rest of the world to forget that economics is an attempt to use mathematical models to simulate human behavior. These models can predict human behavior. However, when humans act irrationally – as many do – then the model no longer fits. The social science of Economics does not account for antisocial behavior. Government must interfere in order to regulate human behavior and protect the public interest. The economy is really a historical understanding of how people behave, and therefore can be used to predict future behavior based on proven patterns. To assign to this dynamic the human attributes of will and intention is approaching one other situation when humans do this: religion. If Economics is given birth to a new religion, then surely Currency would be its God.
What I know for sure is that sociopaths are driving the economy, using their wit and charisma to smack us in the face and simultaneously blame us for being in their way. These individuals act above the law, and do not learn from their behavior.
Let’s tell different stories. Let’s create new characters. Let’s bring forth a Mr. Economy that is truly more human and more humane.